Talk about your scandalous lives - though probably no worse than the likes of Augustine - Mary lived the high-life, born of wealth and privilege. She was spoiled, self-indulgent, cynical, and possessed many other bad habits, again no worse than many others. She lived with impunity toward social norms and activities thought appropriate for her sex, running away from home at a young age.
Whether from necessity or desire, she began to work in the area of entertainment, both artful and physical, moving among pilgrims to the Holy Land. When attempting to follow potential customers into church for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, she found herself physically repelled at the door and unable to enter.
This rebuff struck her to her core. She repented and began to live as a desert hermit for the rest of her life.
I have no idea what went through her mind for those 50 years in the desert, if the memories of the first 30 years of her early life drove her daily or if she felt so free in the mercy of God that she had need for little else. She impressed those who stumbled upon her and so I prefer to think on the latter, and seek to find that same peace in the mercy of God, especially on Divine Mercy Sunday.
[On Zosimas, a priest and monk, seeing Mary and she him, both dropped the the ground and begged the other for blessing]
[Zosimas said:] "O mother, filled with he spirit, by your mode of life it is evident that you live with God and have died to the world. The Grace granted to you is apparent -- for you have called me by name and recognized that I am a priest, though you have never seen me before. Grace is recognized not by one's orders, but by gifts of the Spirit, so give me your blessing for God's sake, for I need your prayers."
Then giving way before the wish of the elder the woman said: "Blessed is God Who cares for the salvation of men and their souls."
Zosimas answered: "Amen."
And both rose to their feet. Then the woman asked the elder: "Why have you come, man of God, to me who am so sinful? Why do you wish to see a woman naked an devoid of every virtue? Though I know one thing -- the Grace of the Holy Spirit has brought you to render me a service in time. Tell me, father, how are the Christian peoples living? And the kings? How is the Church guided?"
Zosimas said: "By your prayers, mother, Christ has granted lasting peace to all. But fulfill the unworthy petition of an old man and pray for the whole world and for me who am a sinner, so that my wanderings in the desert may not be fruitless."
She answered: "You who are a priest, Abba Zosimas, it is you who must pray for me and for all -- for this is your calling. But as we must all be obedient, I will gladly do what you ask."
And with these words she turned to the East, and raising her eyes to heaven and stretching out her hands, she began to pray in a whisper. One could not hear separate words, so that Zosimas could not understand anything that she said in her prayers. Meanwhile he stood, according to his own word, all in a flutter, looking at the ground without saying a word. And he swore, calling God to witness, that when at length he thought that her prayer was very long, he took his eyes off the ground and saw that she was raised bout a forearm's distance from the ground and stood praying in the air. When he saw this, even greater terror seized him and he fell on the ground weeping and repeating may times, "Lord have mercy."
And whilst lying prostrate on the ground he was tempted by a thought: Is it not a spirit, and perhaps her prayer is hypocrisy. But at the very same moment the woman turned round, raised the elder from the ground and said: "Why do thoughts confuse you, Abba, and tempt you about me, as if I were a spirit and a dissembler in prayer? Know, holy father, that I am only a sinful woman, though I am guarded by Holy baptism. And I am no spirit but earth and ashes, and flesh alone."
And with these words she guarded herself with the sign of the Cross on her forehead, eyes, mouth and breast, saying: "May God defend us from the evil one and from his designs, for fierce is his struggle against us."
-- From The Life of our Holy Mother Mary of Egypt, by St. Saphronius
Truth to Ponder
I decided to spend a year thinking about the Faith celebrated in the sanctoral calendar. There are also just some events, Scriptural, and other quotes that strike me on random days; or randomly on days, as the case may be.
Saint's Days by Month
Days by Entry